Born in Berkeley, California, Steve Elson started playing saxophone at the age of 11. After high school, he began performing with the finest rhythm and blues, latin, soul music and jazz groups around the S.F. Bay Area. He toured North America with the legendary Johnny Otis Rhythm and Blues Revue, alongside such artists as guitarist Shuggie Otis, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson and the Three Tons of Joy.
After studies with Harold Stein and jazz great Joe Henderson, Elson moved to New York City. While performing on the burgeoning loft jazz scene, he began recording and playing with a great variety of creative and commercial artists such as Tito Puente, Duran Duran, the Temptations, Peter Gabriel, the Talking Heads, the Beach Boys, among many others.
Elson was one of the co-founders of the proto-funk group, the Slickaphonics, with Ray Anderson and Mark Helias. This ensemble recorded five albums, and performed world-wide in clubs, concerts and major music festivals including the Montreaux, Berlin and North Sea
Elson's playing was featured on David Bowie's "Let's Dance", including the baritone sax solo on the mega-hit Modern Love. This was the beginning of a long-term and on-going musical relationship. Elson went on to tour, record, and provide horn arrangements on subsequent Bowie CD's.
Elson co-founded the Borneo Horns (along with Stan Harrison and Lenny Pickett) in 1983. This innovative ensemble toured throughout Europe, and the U.S. in concerts and festivals. As a sideman he has performed on hundreds of commercial and creative music LP's, CD's and on the soundtracks of many feature films including Get Shorty and director Ang Lee's Eat, Drink, Man, Woman. He has performed on Saturday Night Live, the Conan O'Brien Show, the Prairie Home Companion, Live from the Apollo, the MTV Music Awards and Farm Aid. He received commissions from, and performed with many of Manhattan's new music ensembles including Peter Gordon's Love of Life Orchestra, Linda Bouchard's Abandon, the groups of Scott Johnson, Guy Klucevsek, Dick Connette (Last Forever), Bobby Previte, the Klezmatics and Robert Een.
Elson has composed music for Off Broadway shows, commercials and documentaries. His music has been featured on many radio shows including John Schaeffer's New Sounds on NPR. Elson was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship grant in Music Composition. He received two major National Endowment for the Arts grants in the field of Jazz Composition. The New York State Council on the Arts awarded him a grant from the Individual Artists Program. His work has been supported repeatedly by commissioning grants from the Mary Cary Flagler Charitable Trust and "Meet the Composer"
Elson was a resident at Duke University, composing music for chamber ensemble as a part of the American Dance Festival and has sat on curatorial panels for NYC's Dance Theater Workshop. He has been part of panels to determine the recipient of states composition grants.
Some of the artist/choreographers he has collaborated with include; Risa Jaroslow, David Parsons, Yoshiko Chuma, Robert Longo, Marta Renzi, Bill T. Jones, Amy Sue Rosen and Hilary Easton. Recently Elson composed, and recorded music for Academy Award winning filmmaker Jonathan Demme's documentary Right to Return on the effects of the hurricane Katrina on New Orleans.
Think of Steve Elson's Mott & Broome as an excavation, where the dig is of the neighborhood, starting off on the Bowery in New York City's Lower East Side. The first job is to break through the hard surface, the constant rumble of affordable housing being torn down, bodegas giving way to condos, high rises shadowing tenements. This music does not erase the past, but honors it, and these connections help explain some of the resonance to be heard on the disc. The sense of place and of history, and the shifting through different eras.
2 New 'ON' this week / 89 Total
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